San Jacinto Peak

via Palm Springs Tram

July 17th, 2010

Once a month Patti and I have decided to pick a new hiking destination out of town. Well this month it was my pick, and I picked the peak of San Jacinto. After seeing the location featured on the show, I Shouldn’t Be Alive, I thought it looked like a nice place to go hiking, as long as you stayed on the trail. Not like that poor unfortunate couple featured in the episode titled, “Date From Hell”. That couple was eventually found alive, but the hiker that got lost in that same area a year prior didn’t make it out alive and they did come across his camp and then his body near a stream.

In reading about the hike on the net, it was described a few different ways, strenuous, difficult, an ass kicker. I think Patti and I would have to agree with all of those descriptions.

Saturday morning we packed the car up and headed off, all bright eyed and bushy tailed. The tram is located right off the 10 freeway just before hitting, Palm Springs. We got there around 9:00 and was head up the mountain soon after that. The price for the tram ride is $23 per person. It’s a beautiful ride up to San Jacinto on the tram, and get this, the floor of the tram rotates 360 degrees so everyone gets a nice view on the ride up there. It’s cooler there too, about 30 degrees cooler then Palm Springs, but it was still hot, about 75/80°.

Once we got off the tram, it’s really not clear which way to the trail that heads up to San Jacinto Peak. We found our way over to the rangers’ station, where you have to fill out a form with your name and address on it and where you plan to hike… I guess they need that incase something happens to you. Once we did that, we found the trailhead with several trails listed on it, and we took off on the one that said, San Jacinto Peak, 5.5 miles.

Not long after we started our hike, we almost went off trail onto another trail without even knowing it. It’s real easy to get off trail here, and some of the trailheads aren’t marked. Make sure you know where you’re going and don’t be afraid in asking people if you’re heading in the right direction.

The hike to the peak was really nice for the first few miles, and then the altitude started getting to me. I had to take breaks more often to just catch my breath, but I was determined to make it to the peak, so I didn’t care how many times we stopped, I was going to get there.

On this hike, I had 4 liters of water in my hydro pack, and a few Gatorades, for an added power punch! We made the peak in about 4 hours, once we made it, Patti and I both were all smiles, we both instantly felt great again. The view from the peak was amazing! Sierra Club Founder, John Muir scaled San Jacinto in 1887, and exclaimed "The view is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth." Johnny boy was right, it’s a spectacular view!

The first known climb, as cited in the San Diego Union was, September 16, 1874, by a party of five men led by "F. from Riverside" who alone made the summit. Climbs for pleasure then became common in the 1880's. San Jancinto is the 2nd tallest peak in Southern California.

It was a really fun, but a strenuous hike. It does take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours to complete. On the way down, Patti and I both thought we were lost. We weren’t lost, we had just been hiking for hours and hours, and the trail looks different coming down as it looks going up. Again it’s an easy place to get yourself lost.

After we were done with the hike and leaving in our car, we were happy we made it to the peak, and we thought we would like to do the hike again, but not anytime soon. SO would we recommend this hike to our friends, sure…but be in shape and be prepared for a long day, and make sure you start off early. Keep in mind that altitude is a factor especially if you live at sea level like we do. We hike at least 30 miles a week and it wasn’t an easy hike for us.

Total distance; 14.01 miles.

Palm Springs Tram  - 1 Tramway Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262 - (760) 325-1391